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Clay Holmes emerging as Yankees’ second closer

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The torch has not been passed. For now, it is being shared.

After using Clay Holmes to close out a second straight win, Yankees manager Aaron Boone declined to anoint him the team’s new closer despite Aroldis Chapman’s consistency issues.

“I want him in big spots, especially against some of the best right-handed hitters in this game, and I still got Chappy down there who is an elite closer and other guys that we have confidence on a given day can go out there and close out a game,” Boone said following the Yankees’ 7-5 win over the White Sox on Saturday that kicked off a six-game homestand. “No, I’m not permanently doing anything. This is just a case of today.”

Boone said there were a few circumstances that led to him going to Holmes. Chicago’s big right-handed hitters, Luis Robert and Jose Abreu, were coming up and the Yankees face a doubleheader on Sunday, so he was able to save Chapman with that in mind.

Clay Holmes
Clay Holmes
Corey Sipkin

“It’s something that I feel like all of us down there are capable,” Holmes said. “Having a chance to help the team win, whatever role that’s in, whatever inning, I’m just looking to go out there and put a zero up there.”

Chapman hasn’t blown a save in nine chances this season and owns a 2.63 ERA, but he has a high WHIP of 1.46 and has given up runs in four consecutive outings. He last pitched Tuesday, in a game he nearly blew against the Orioles by giving up three hits and an earned run in an inning of work.

Holmes, meanwhile, has been close to spotless. He retired the final four batters of the game Saturday for his fourth career save, all coming this season. The outing extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings, the longest in the big leagues this season. It is also the longest by a Yankees reliever since David Robertson tossed 26 ¹/₃ consecutive scoreless innings from September 2011 through April 2012.

“He’s been special, probably as good a reliever as there has been in the league I would think to this point,” Boone said of Holmes, who has a 0.42 ERA and 0.69 WHIP through 21 ²/₃ innings. “I can’t imagine [anyone] being any better.”

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